|N.C. lawmakers try to rush executions|
|Bill would end RJA, speed capital punishment|
|Published Thursday, March 28, 2013 8:03 am|
RALEIGH - At a time when states such as Connecticut and Maryland are abolishing the death penalty, North Carolina lawmakers are considering a bill that would "kick start" capital punishment in the state after seven years without an execution.
The Capital Punishments/Amendments Bill could speed up the process of executions. North Carolina's new state leadership is going against the national trend, said Tye Hunter, executive director of the Center for Death Penalty Litigation.
"We've had the change in government," he said. "We're sort of going in the opposite direction of the mainstream."
The bill also would remove the Racial Justice Act from state books. The act allows inmates to show that race was a factor in their sentencing or jury selection. Under current law, Death Row inmates would have their sentences converted to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
The removal of the law from state books goes far beyond the impact on inmates, Hunter said, since the Racial Justice Act was passed after several independent studies found that prosecutors discriminated against black jurors.
"African-Americans are still discriminated against and not trusted to be at the levers of power for these kinds of positions," Hunter said.
Senate Bill 306 is expected to go up for a vote on April 3. If passed, it will move on to the House for consideration. Supporters of the legislation say it will bring justice to people found guilty of the most serious of crimes.
The text of SB 306 is online at ncleg.net.
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